Saturday, November 21, 2015

Cooking Class with Chef Joy

A few weeks ago, Alina and I took a cooking class with Chef Joy, who is part of a business development group I attend. Joy described her idea for cooking classes. While Joy was describing this idea, I suggested a "date night" for couples, which she offered, and then Alina and I were her first customers! She has access to the beautiful Ferguson Showroom, which has about 8 super high end demo kitchens setup.

We cooked a mushroom soup, a thai chicken curry, and bourbon pecan cupcake. Everything was ridiculously good tasting, and extremely efficient to prepare.

There was wine and beer.

I am happy we took a cooking class as a date. It was a fun change, and we learned how to (efficiently) prepare tasty, healthy dishes.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Salmon Snagging with Russians

Over Halloween, I went salmon snagging with Russians at Navajo Lake - east of Farmington, New Mexico. This is somewhat different than fishing. In all kinds of fishing I've ever done, the fish bite your hook, and then you catch them on the hook that they just bit. In salmon snagging, so many salmon are swimming by at all times you jerk the hook up quickly (then relax, and jerk it again) that you catch a salmon on the side of it's body. The hook is a mean looking trifecta of heavy weight, and three barbed hooks.

Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday. However, my friend that always throws a project-x style Halloween party basically moved to south east Asia, and didn't throw one this year in Albuquerque. Alina (a beautiful Russian woman I've been dating) invited me to go with her family salmon snagging. I like Russian family things. Russian families invite me to eat at their house, and feed me tons of good food. Then, the dad gets mad if I don't drink at least one beer/alcoholic beverage with him (3-5 is better.) Then, they have tea and something sweet. This happens at basically every single meal when I've been a guest, with basically four Russian families. Everyone sits around, talks in Russian and English (depending on your proficiency - I understand a ton of Russian but I still kind of suck at speaking) and everyone is really nice. I grew up eating every single dinner with my family at the table, and I like that part of Russian hospitality.

Alina caught one fish on Saturday, and four on Sunday. 

Somehow Russian women always maintain their makeup, and hair, even while fishing...? 

You can see the blood dripping. This type of fishing is the most brutal I've experienced.

Valeriy in the foreground - salmon snagging was crowded!

The salmon are spawning, and the New Mexicans are crowding.


In total, we caught thirty three fish. Alina caught five, her brother Andrew caught one, and her stepdad Valeriy and I caught twenty eight between the two of us - over two days of fishing.

I really liked building a fire with Alina's brother. By that time on Saturday night, Valeriy had already convinced me that drinking four beers was a good idea. I'm happy the fire did not burn anything down. 

This is Alina's mom, Lada, during the bloodbath of cleaning.

Catching the fish was way more fun than processing them. However, with four people hacking them up as quickly as possible, it didn't take that long. 

Lada cooked an amazing salmon dinner for us on Sunday when we returned....

... and it was delicious.

Salmon snagging at Navajo Lake with Russians was a very fun way to spend Halloween. The lake salmon tasted like a cross between Atlantic / ocean / regular salmon and trout, which I thought was really good. I'm happy that's how I spent my Halloween.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Yearly Goals V. 3.0

I try and write my goals every day, week, month and year. Lately, my "yearly" goals have become every two year goals, which is all right with me. These are long term goals, which would be good to accomplish within a year time frame, but as long as I have momentum, tempo, and progress I'm generally content. There are a few long term goals which I really need to actually wrap up (and I'm close!) but in general these are an attempt to reflect a lifestyle I'd like to have. For example, it's not like someone is (should be?) "done" when they reach a certain fitness goal, but continue to live a healthy lifestyle and try and strive for the next fitness goal.

I wrote these goals in May of 2013, and I think it's time to evaluate them, and write version 4.0 long-term goals. I might call them that, instead of yearly goals. Some of them that aren't finished will be on the next list.

1.) Earn greater than, or equal to, NNN,NNN in revenues in my business ventures.
* It is OK to spend a ton of this on growing revenues.

For 2013, I was at about 80% of this, and for 2014 I was at about 120%. When I broke this down by income category, my rental property income was significantly higher than anticipated due to fortunate opportunities that presented themselves (which would have been difficult to plan for), and my software development income greatly improved in 2014 due to really focusing on sales. 2015 is going very, very well at about 180% of my goal. Expenses are mounting, but no where near revenues. Overall, I am happy with how this goal turned out, and I'll continue to increase this goal and try and grow financially. Lately, I've been trying to align my financial goals with those of other people, and hire them to help me in my ventures. This has accelerated a number of my plans, and helped provide people with money, experience and confidence.

2.) Win a “B” singles handball tournament.
* Travel to one every money, as cash allows.
* Practice, Practice, Practice (Add this to daily, weekly, and monthly goals.)

100% on this. My first one was in Santa Fe, not long after writing these goals. I then placed 2nd in the “B”s in Tuscon, which has significantly better handball players than anywhere else in the world, due to both U.S. handball associations being based there. I took the “B” doubles with my partner Gerald Cervantes, and “A” singles in a small tournament in Farmington. Farmington was not a representative sample of "A" level quality, and I have since then been getting smacked down in the "A" division.

I haven’t decided if I want to step up my game to start taking “A” tournaments. Moving up from “B” to “A” was a huge amount of work, there isn't any money in Open/Pro level handball, and there are not many people I play recreationally at my level now. I am thinking I'd like to focus on helping other people develop their games, and play for fun more, than being extremely serious about taking it to the next level.

3.) Have a girlfriend for 6/12 or more months.
Artist / Nurse - May 12, 2013 - March 27, 2014. - 320 days = 10 months, 16 days
Single - March 28, 2014 - July 21, 2014 - 116 days = 3 months, 24 days
Economics Student -   July 22, 2014 - October 17, 2014 - 88 days - 2 months, 26 days
Single - October 18, 2014 - January 4, 2015 = 79 days = 2 months, 18 days
Graphic Designer - January 5, 2015 - May, 15, 2015 - 121 days = 4 months, 1 day
Single - May 16 - today.  - 127 days = 4 months, 4 days.

Total Days = 851
Single Days = 322
Relationship Days = 529
62% of the total time, so I accomplished this.

I feel pretty good about this one. When it became completely obvious that things were totally messed up, I improved at walking away from a horrible situation. Ideally, things wouldn't be framed on the "quick exit" strategy, and instead on an "awesome situation" strategy, but I'm not quite there yet.

4.) Save NN,NNN in cash.
This one was really, really variable. I pushed a ton of money into my construction projects, and saved a bunch when busy with software and not busy with construction. Now, I'm investing in software development labor to try and grow Noventum, but that tends to be revenue driven (which is nice) so there isn't too much of an impact on my savings goals. Towards the beginning of 2013, my savings were totally inadequate, but towards the end things stabilized more. Now, I don't see any kind of an issue with savings.

5.) After I have NN,NNN saved, put all money towards construction. 
Pretty good on this, but still not awesome. I have gotten better at paying people to do things, but I’m still not 100% comfortable after the massive contractor delay/problem I experienced. I've progressed with construction, but am not quite done.

6.) Pay back all non-bank-mortgage debts.
100% on this. I borrowed some money to kill PMI, and during a refinance when the value went way down on my property due to general market trends.

7.) Work on being more kind, loving and compassionate. 
I think I got better at this. The only thing I really wish I had done differently was treat girlfriend #1 above better towards the end of our relationship. Otherwise, when my other relationships became toxic, I basically left, and/or didn't pursue the other person really hard when they left. Otherwise, I think things went well. This is still not done, and probably will never be.

8.) Support my parents in their decision to buy a house in Albuquerque however I can. 
100%. I help them on projects all the time, helped them get it rented to my Russian friend, and am generally supportive and positive. The next stage in this goal is to help them with their desire to provide short term vacation rentals when they are not in Albuquerque.

9.) Keep occupancy for rental property at 100%. 
Albuquerque had about two months of vacancy on three units over two years, which wasn’t bad. One was because of a tenant bailing on me early during the summertime and I spent a bit of time on the repairs, and the other was when my worst tenants ever left and I had to do some repairs and improvements. This was less than 100%, but when I wrote this goal I was living in one of the units. Now, this is around 185% with the addition of another rental.

10.) Continue to progress in the Russian language. 
I'm happy with this. I finished 202, 301 and 302 with “A”s. I got a “B” in the insane-o two week summer course, and have been speaking with friends. I'm taking Russian 401 now, and past that I believe there is one more Russian language class UNM offers.

Overall, I am happy with how this revision of yearly goals turned out.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Russian Orthodox Church in Sitka

Today I went to a church service at St. Michael's Cathedral in Sitka, Alaska. The church is Russian Orthodox, which I've never gone to before (despite studying Russian for about six years) and the oldest Orthodox church in North America.

My mom took pictures of some of the icons, when she went on a tour of the church earlier. I didn't feel like it was appropriate to take a bunch of pictures during the service of the icons. In the Orthodox faith, icons play a much greater (any) role than in Protestantism.

I grew up going to Protestant services, and Orthodox services are very different. First of all, in Protestant services, the preacher will say things, and/or the audience (congregation) will repeat things. These things can be prayers, affirmations, creeds, or all kinds of other liturgical statements. These phrases are said in what I would describe as an announcement voice, or a prayer voice. They repeat, announce, and state what they want in the orthodox service I went to, but instead they use a chanting voice or a singing voice. This was literally everything, except for a brief sermon (which was in an announcement voice.)

The sermon was good, and applicable to my life. It was about preparing yourself to go to church, and receive Christ's message. I felt like this was an especially good message for me, since I've been thinking about extracting myself from an unpleasant, low profitability, high stress, business arrangement in the best way possible. I was debating how to quickly leave this situation without screwing anyone over, instead of paying attention to the church service. This sermon helped me let that situation go, and focus on my present situation. I never really had a good understanding of Mathew 22:2, and it still seems kind of violent to me, but the priest had an interpretation of it that resonated with my life.

The next major difference was the constant standing. Everyone was standing, for basically the full hour and a half. I sat down during the last 25 minutes, during, and after communion. Communion is where you eat tiny pieces of bread and drink grape juice during church to symbolize (in Protestantism) the body and blood of Christ. I didn't participate in communion, since I wasn't sure if you were supposed to go through some kind of rite of passage (like confirmation in Catholicism) or not. PLUS, everyone was taking a sip from the same, common spoon out of a cup of juice. I always skip the communal communion in Protestant church too, since I believe in germ theory. The constant standing wore out my legs, and I felt like I was ready to collapse by the end of the service.

There was a ton of background movement going on, which was part of the service. During the first 30 minutes, people were walking to and from the icons, crossing themselves, kissing the icons, and walking back to their seats. This was during chanting/singing. Additionally, about three times during the ceremony the priests would go back into an obscured room that you could only see through a doorway and light candles, light incense, or sing/chant in the room that was disconnected from, but still somewhat visible to, the main room. The main priest would have his back turned to the audience while he was mysteriously preparing the obscured room.

In Protestant services, the church typically hands you out a flyer that says exactly what's going on throughout the service beforehand. One guy, or one musical group, leads or plays music, and everyone else either listens or sings along. About 3/4 of the service is sitting down, and 1/4 standing.

The last thing I noticed was that the priests look exactly like the Czars of Russia before Peter the Great tried to modernize Russia.

Peter The Great's Dad - Alexis I - Before the Czars stopped looking like Orthodox priests.

Orthodox Priest I saw today. Complete with the hat, and Christian beating stick. I did not see the cool globe. 

Overall, I'm happy I was able to check out a Russian orthodox church service while on vacation. 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Sitka Fishing Trip

Today, Saturday, September 5 Jeremy and I spent the entire day fishing with a guided fishing tour. We used a company called "Big Blue Charters." It was retardedly expensive, but totally fun and worth it. If you added up all the fish I caught in New Mexico in my entire life, they probably equaled in mass to two of the ten fish or so I caught in Alaska. 

Thanks to Jeremy for setting up the entire fishing part of the trip.

Jeremy and I hit the water at 6:00 a.m. Alaska time (4:00 a.m. New Mexico time.) This is why it is still dark, and I was tired.

The part of Alaska we went to is a coniferous rain forest, in the mountains, in the ocean.

This was some sort of special pink colored rock fish that a person can only get one per year of. AND I GOT ONE SUKKA!

I caught one of the the two salmon we caught during this trip. The weather was not that great, and it was towards the very end of their fishing season, but it was still fun.

This sort of looks photoshopped, but it isn't. The guy taking the picture wanted to get it from an angle that made the fish look as big as possible.

Jeremy caught one salmon that was 27.5 inches long, and it had to be 28 inches long to keep it. Below is a video of him reeling it in. Unfortunately, I didn't actually get a shot of the fish he grabbed.

Fishing in Alaska was fun. I caught the majority of the fish out of our four person guided tour (I have good luck.) However, we weren't able to keep as many rock fish as we caught, and that was all we hit our daily limit on. We didn't catch many fish, but I'm still glad we went.